Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The great teacher is not the man who supplies the most facts, but the one in whose presence we become different people.” The role of a teacher is not just a career, it is a calling, and early childhood educators are at the forefront of shaping the lives of these future world citizens.
The job of a teacher is not always an easy task, but one that is full of rewarding experiences. Below are the five inspiring movies every future educator should watch.
“Dangerous Minds” gave us more than just Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” This movie showed us that a teacher who is persistent and can find a way to connect with their students will always come out on top. One of many inner city teacher stories, the movie follows ex-Marine LouAnne Johnson. This movie examines how pop culture can be used as an educational tool. To teach poetry, LouAnne presents her students with lyrics from a Bob Dylan song – and then progresses on to more renowned poet Dylan Thomas. The movie is not without its heart-wrenching moments, but shows how passionate teachers can always find a connection.
Like many of its predecessors, “Freedom Writers” is the story of a young teacher who takes a job working with at-risk students. The true story of teacher Erin Gruwell takes us on one teacher’s journey to connect with her students and heal the wounds of racial intolerance within the walls of her classroom. Despite animosity from fellow teachers and a declining marriage, Gruwell continues to push her students to learn tolerance and share their stories. Through a writing program where the students write anything they would like in a diary, one teacher is able to bridge gaps between her students and show them there is pride, power and potential in each of them.
Dead Poets Society
Words are powerful. “Dead Poets Society” embodies that credo. As educators our words, our actions, our teachings become engrained in our students’ minds. In this movie, Professor John Keating, played by the incomparable Robin Williams, transforms the thinking of his students at a New England preparatory school through poetry. Empowered by the motto, Carpe Diem, the boys each went off to find their own way to “seize the day.” After the death of one of the students, Professor Keating is given the boot. But, not before we get our tear-jerking moment when the boys stand on their desks to shout, “O’ Captain, My Captain!” It is a moving story of how teachers can inspire their students to change their thinking and challenge the social norm.
Lean on Me
Many teachers entered the profession to change the world. What seems like a small thing can actually change the lives of your students – and even your community. “Lean on Me” is based on the true story of Principal Joe Clark, whose radical methods for cleaning up an inner city school challenge local community and school board members. The truth in the end, is that discipline was not the enemy, and his focused academic techniques changed the lives of everyone within that school. Plus, who can forget the students resounding, “We don’t want a good principal, we want Mr. Clark!”; Proof positive that providing a solid foundation of order and strong academia will have students thirsting for knowledge.
Mr. Holland’s Opus
A music-driven favorite, “Mr. Holland’s Opus” is the story of aspiring composer, Glenn Holland, who takes on the “day job” of a music teacher. He dreams of making his mark on the world with one amazing musical composition. The movie follows Holland through many years as he instills values into his students through musical training. His initial passion for music turns into a passion for his students and pushing them to succeed. In the end, it is the generations of students whose lives he touched that comprise his memorable composition – his “opus” of students. As a teacher you will touch the lives of many people, and it will be the greatest success you ever know.